House of Lords and Reform reports flag up potential of distributed ledger technology for government

Written by Sam Trendall on 4 December 2017 in News

The reports from think tank Reform and Lord Holmes recommend increased use of distributed ledger technology

Blockchain in use - Image credit: BTC Keychain via Flickr

Two reports have flagged up the potential of blockchain distributed ledger technology to help government deliver better and more secure public services.

A report from think tank Reform found that the use of blockchain could make the digital identity programmes run by the government safer.

The use of blockchain would allow governments to implement an entirely “self-sovereign” approach to digital identity, where an individual user could own and control their identity for use across any number of different entities.

This would be much more secure than individual departments using separate, centralised models of identity management, the report claimed.

It said: “Government should use blockchain technology to make identity management more secure and efficient.

“This means moving from siloed departments holding different – and even contradictory – versions of a person’s identity, to a user-stored identity, in an identity app on a smartphone.”

Reform added that siloed identities held by different departments are “insecure, inefficient and inconvenient for citizens” and that centralised data storage is more attractive to hackers.

A separate report from the House of Lords, published by Conservative peer Lord Christopher Holmes, flags up the transformational impact distributed ledger technology could have on public services in areas such as policing, border control, taxation, healthcare and government procurement.

Among the report’s recommendations are the creation of cross-department initiatives to better use DLT in delivering public services, and increasing awareness of the technology among senior and middle managers in Whitehall.

It also recommends undertaking pilot programmes, and the formation of a “neutral organisation” to provide policy advice and technical expertise.

“With the right mix of leadership, collaboration and sound governance, DLT offers a step change for service delivery in both the public and private sectors,” Holmes said.

“By reducing data fragmentation and enhancing traceability and accountability, DLT promises cost‐savings and efficiencies on a scale sufficient to impact national finances.” 

The Whitechapel think tank was another policy organisation to call for improved use of DLT in the public sector.

Chair Jeremy Wilson said: “Much of the focus on this technology to date has been around its application for banking, finance and crypto-currencies. 

“What this report shows is that the potential reach is far broader, fundamentally underpinning connectivity across government departments and beyond.”

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